Monday, January 5, 2009

What's In A Name?

When a new neighborhood is being built, who is it that gets to name the streets? Is it the city, the developer, who does that? It'd kind of be a cool job if you felt like being creative. Picture it: A six by six block area of streets all named after Muppets! Kermit the Frog Lane. Miss Piggy Road. Big Bird Drive. That'd be awesome. Or just to keep things interesting you could give the roads names such as "Wrong Way Drive", "Other Way Way", or "Turn Around Place". Granted, there would be confusion and mayhem on the roads, but it would make for fab-ulous entertainment for about the first month. After that, you'd probably just want to switch all of the names over to trees or fruits or something. But definitely not anything that might "offend" anyone.

The only thing that I hate more than "fixing" or "correcting" something that is "offensive" to someone (singular) is doing things in a way that will allegedly "prevent" something "offensive" from occurring, even if there is no indication that anyone would be offended at all if it was done differently. Over there in the Lewes District Council, which is in East Sussex, which is in the UK, they're doing both, correcting and preventing. And they're doing it with street names. What?

The unoffensive folks over there at The Daily Mail tell us that the Council, having solved all other problems in the world, apparently, "....has drawn up guidelines for new street names." They've come up with "...its first street naming and numbering policy...which will ban potentially rude sounding names." See? "Potentially." There's your asinine prevention that I speak so lowly of right there for you!

Now, these are street names that we're talking about. How "offensive" could they possibly be? Well, you won't be seeing any 'aesthetically unsuitable' names, "such as Gaswork Road, Tip House and Coalpit Lane." According to the Council, those "should be avoided." Um, I don't get it. Let's see..."Gaswork" because it has the word "gas" in it and that will automatically be thought of as flatulence? Is that it? I was very unoffended by it when I read it, but that's just me (unfortunately). And "Tip House" because....? I don't know what a "Tip House" is. Now, if it were "Tit House", that I might agree should not be the name of a street (that runs past an elementary school, especially). But I thought "tips" were good? (Actually, I thought "tits" were good too, but that's a whole different blog post right there.) And "Coalpit Lane" because....? Maybe "Pit" is bad in England? They don't like coal? Miners would be offended?! I don't understand.

The Council has also banned "names capable of deliberate misinterpretation like Hoare Road, Typple Avenue, Quare Street, Corfe Close (4 Corfe Close) etc." This is becoming a lot of work to try to understand the issues they're having with these names. Let's see...."Hoare Road" would sound like "Whore Road" (whores are bad). Typple Avenue...? Because it's like that "Tip House" that wasn't OK before? It sounds too much like "nipple"? I don't know. "Quare" must not be OK because it either sounds too much like "queer" (they're bad too, according to some) or because it looks like "square" without the "S" and misspelling is bad as well. (Not as bad as whores and nipples, but still pretty bad.) I still have yet to be offended by anything except for the dougheads on this council who are implementing this.

"Street names which could give offence are not used, nor are names which encourage defacing name plates." I have absolutely no idea what that sentence means and the article didn't define it. I don't know of a name that would "encourage defacing" unless it said "Don't Deface". That would encourage defacing. Other than that, I'm stumped.

If this ridiculous policy had been in place when Juggs Road and Cockshut Road were erected (pun SO intended), those names would likely have been rejected under this "Prevention Through Exclusion and Overreaction" rule. Or if they had been in Reading, where last year, "Council chiefs banned a road from being called Fighting Cocks." Sure. Because if you were driving along and saw the road sign "Fighting Cocks" you'd immediately start looking around for two penises duking it out amongst themselves! "Honey! Did you see that sign? Where's your camera? The guys at the office are never going to believe this! Let me know if you see them so I can get a picture! " Yeah, I don't think that would happen. Often.

Does the Council think that everyone is twelve and thereby must snicker and giggle whenever they hear the word "cock"? They either think we're all twelve or that we're all Joey from "Friends", because this is ridiculous. (If everyone had thought like this there would definitely be no Phuket over there in Thailand. And you can bet that Intercourse, Pennsylvania wouldn't get very far either!) The Council is going to have a problem with a lot of the names of places over there in jolly old England because they have quirky names for places that have the potential to offend the masses (apparently). Just over there in the UK we have:

  • Popping Hole
  • Great Dixter (Just how great?)
  • Sissinghurst Gardens
  • Bewl Water (I don't know what 'Bewl" means either, but it has potential to offend, don't you think?).
  • Tipsy Cottage.
  • Cockermouth (It's in Cumbria! Right over there by Papcastle! I swear!).

Other places that the Council would not be fond of (but where the residents seem to have been able to manage their lives on a day to day basis without fail):

  • F*cking (Apparently, it's in Tarsdorf, Austria. I must visit!)

  • Dildo in Newfoundland, Canada (America's Hat, how could you?!)

  • Muff in Ireland

  • And perhaps Muff's cousin, Twatt in Scotland

And the list goes on and on.

Seriously. I know regular people have a lot of time on their hands, but shouldn't the council be doing something else besides this crap? If they want to know what the people find offensive, they should ask, because you know what name I find offensive? The Lewes Council!

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